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Old    D Hill (dhill)      Join Date: Aug 2010       07-23-2012, 10:00 AM Reply   
I am looking for help. We will be in Chicago this weekend and I am considering taking the boat (Nautique 230) and dropping into Lake Michigan on Sat-Sun. Is this a stupid idea?

Though we normally board/skate more than surf, I've already kind of figured surfing will be our best option. I believe there is a public ramp at Burnham Harbor, which is easier for me to get to from Indy since I am on interstates / Lakeshore Dr. and would not have to tow the boat on the city streets.

Once on the lake, is it better to stay behind the breakwalls, or are those two areas zoos? Though it's no wake, what about going through the locks to the river? Figure it is at least scenic.

We've taken our boat to Lake Michigan before on the east side at St. Josephs/Benton Harbor and had a great time, but Chicago feels different.

Thanks for the advice/help.
Old    Matt (MattieK27)      Join Date: Mar 2010       07-23-2012, 10:21 AM Reply   
Check out 31st Street Marina. They have a ramp, and not a lot of people know about it. Its within spitting distance of Soldier Field.

Not a stupid idea to boat on Lake Michigan, it just depends on the day. It can be calm on Lake Michigan, and it can get nasty at a moments notice. Admittedly it isn't the best body of water for a towboat, but if the marine forecast is 2ft waves or less its worth taking the chance. The area behind the breakwalls gets congested on rough days, so that isn't a great option of you plan to surf/board.

The locks can be crazy busy, but the scenic drive through Chicago on the water is something everyone should do if they get the chance. Another area to check out it just north of Navy Pier, "the playpen." It is the party area where boats raft up, not a bad time if you want to just sit and hang out. If you want more info or more details, let me know.
Old    D Hill (dhill)      Join Date: Aug 2010       07-23-2012, 10:58 AM Reply   
matt - thanks a ton, you confirm a lot of my thoughts. i am looking at 31st as well, since the best option for overnight parking is the mccormick marshalling yard. i just figured that it's just that much farther from the river/navy pier. based on your recommendation, i think i will look more closely at that marina.

as for the weather, i was planning to check here, http://forecast.weather.gov/shmrn.php?mz=lmz741. think i should use the 2ft waves as a go/nogo?

i've heard of the playpen, but will have my entire family with me. kids ages are all teens and i'm guessing the raft up isn't over the top, but i am not looking for wakeboard boats with stripper poles knowing that oak street beach is there in the area, does anyone ever "anchor" and swim to the beach (i would stay with the boat, but thought the kids might want to swim to the beach)?

last questions... is there a fee for the locks? given we normally run in shallow water and the commercial traffic in chicago, i am guessing we can go quite far north (addision?) or south (roosevelt?). is there any reason to or anything to see?

thanks again for the help.
Old    Matt (MattieK27)      Join Date: Mar 2010       07-23-2012, 11:45 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by dhill View Post
matt - thanks a ton, you confirm a lot of my thoughts. i am looking at 31st as well, since the best option for overnight parking is the mccormick marshalling yard. i just figured that it's just that much farther from the river/navy pier. based on your recommendation, i think i will look more closely at that marina.

as for the weather, i was planning to check here, http://forecast.weather.gov/shmrn.php?mz=lmz741. think i should use the 2ft waves as a go/nogo?

i've heard of the playpen, but will have my entire family with me. kids ages are all teens and i'm guessing the raft up isn't over the top, but i am not looking for wakeboard boats with stripper poles knowing that oak street beach is there in the area, does anyone ever "anchor" and swim to the beach (i would stay with the boat, but thought the kids might want to swim to the beach)?

last questions... is there a fee for the locks? given we normally run in shallow water and the commercial traffic in chicago, i am guessing we can go quite far north (addision?) or south (roosevelt?). is there any reason to or anything to see?

thanks again for the help.
That web site is the same one we use. Great source.

2ft is not a bad gauge, we usually go by whether or not there is a "small craft advisory" which is typically 4+ waves. Of course that's with a boat with more freeboard and a deeper v. If I had a 230, I would venture out in a 2-4' forecast, but definitely keep an eye out. The lake can turn quick.

The Play Pen is typically family friendly, unless you end up there during the Scene Boat party. All bets are off that weekend. As far as beaches, I am unsure what ones allow you to anchor relatively close to them, the beaches we frequent are more on the Indiana side of the lake.

The locks are free. Make sure every person on board has a vest to wear, you will need them on when in the locks. Typically, we enter the river and idle through the city to about Chinatown or Canal st, then turn around and head back. There are other branches of the river that might offer more sites, but running through the main drag with the high rises and bridges usually is enough for most.
Old    D Hill (dhill)      Join Date: Aug 2010       07-23-2012, 12:13 PM Reply   
matt - again, thanks for all the advice. you've made me a little more comfortable with this idea. as i mentioned, we've been in the lake near st. joseph, but could have always spent time in the river had weather forced us.

and go figure.....the one f***in weekend i want to launch in lake michigan, it's the scene boat party (http://www.chicagosceneboatparty.com/). appreciate the head's up, now if i can just get rid of the wife/kids. otherwise, i'll have to steer clear (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO_Fy8PMoDg). big party though, looks fun! just may have to float by and capture some pictures.

i did look for something in indiana closer to chicago, but given the steel factories, i was basically looking at michigan city. i'd be curious where you go if you care to share

again, thanks for all the great help.
Old    Matt (MattieK27)      Join Date: Mar 2010       07-23-2012, 1:22 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by dhill View Post
matt - again, thanks for all the advice. you've made me a little more comfortable with this idea. as i mentioned, we've been in the lake near st. joseph, but could have always spent time in the river had weather forced us.

and go figure.....the one f***in weekend i want to launch in lake michigan, it's the scene boat party (http://www.chicagosceneboatparty.com/). appreciate the head's up, now if i can just get rid of the wife/kids. otherwise, i'll have to steer clear (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO_Fy8PMoDg). big party though, looks fun! just may have to float by and capture some pictures.

i did look for something in indiana closer to chicago, but given the steel factories, i was basically looking at michigan city. i'd be curious where you go if you care to share

again, thanks for all the great help.
Haha, Scene is a good time. I'm a bit too cautious about my own boat to fully enjoy it, but if you're not in the center of it you can find more relaxed people to sit and watch the chaos with. Let me know if you go.

Yea the steel factories are a huge eye sore, but the Indiana side is just so much more affordable for a season-long slip. Our boat was bought and gets stored in Michigan City, very familiar with the area. Currently our boat is a bit west in Portage. There are some decent beaches near Portage. There is also something they call boaters beach, a beach that is only accessible by boat; so it's not nearly as busy. It is located by a vent for the steel mills where the water they use to cool the plants is expelled, so the water tends to be a bit warmer. No worries about pollution, the water actually never touches steel or chemicals, just heat exchangers. Despite that the EPA still mandates they filter it before putting it back. Essentially, the water coming out is cleaner than it is going in.

Best of luck with the trip, if you end up making the trip let me know. Another weekend to watch out for is the Chicago Air show. It's awesome watching the show from the water, but the ramps and locks get super busy.
Old    Swatguy (xstarrider)      Join Date: Jun 2007       07-23-2012, 1:23 PM Reply   
You can launch several places depending in where you are coming from. Diversely Harbor is a great place to launch. Right in the middle of a shoreline cruise up north and south. Another is Burnham Harbor. Just south of Soldier Field, just north of MCCormick place and just north of the 31st st launch Matt mentioned. Depending on what time you were thinking of launching will depend on where you should go. Diversely gets a bit busy in the afternoon and can be a pain with traffic. However Burnham and 31st street are easy on easy off access to i55/ Stevenson e way.

Te downside of both Burnham and 31st is that once you leave the harbor you are in wide open waters where as the diversey boat trip is all covered shoreline with high rises to protect you. Trade off somewhat. I used to ride regular on the lake with my older boats...... All Centurions when I was a rep. My regular boat was a 20ft 8inch Centurion Cyclone. I never ever felt unsafe or unworthy of the lake. It had a nice deep v and cut through the chop like crazy. Had an Avalanche for a bit and that thing had zero issues as well on te lake. So I can assume the 230 is easily capable. A ton has to do with the driver and knowing how to drive in rough water to make te trek enjoyable.

I know own a 2000 XStar since I lost my promo deals due to the dealership closing and have had that out there as well . I get hammered in that though a lot more than my Centurions. It's not a comfy cruise like the Centurions but again I have never felt unsafe. Unless your dropping in at 6 am or staying til dark you can forget boarding of any kind except surfing on a Saturday.

The playpen is a family place for sure. It's well protected and breakwall lined. They are. Some crazy parties but overall it's a real nice place to chill even with the family. It really isnt a true drunken debochery like party cove at the ozarks or the sandbar on the chain o lakes. It also has a ton of space to spread out. It's located just north of navy pier at Ohio st beach.
The one nice thing about Burnham is they have the ship store right there for Iceand small things.

I too recommend the cruise from te rive to the lake. The locks though get nutty when going from the river to the lake when they open. The waves come from every angle. However from the lake to the river is a cake walk.


You will be perfectly fine in a 230 out there. I ways find filling my center ballast nd keeping everyone in the cockpit works great. Especially on my 2000 XStar. Sometimes if the crew is light I may even run a but of rear ballast. It just helps cut thru the chop and keep the nose steady. Again all in the driver tho, but the 230 is more than capeable

Last edited by xstarrider; 07-23-2012 at 1:26 PM.
Old    D Hill (dhill)      Join Date: Aug 2010       07-23-2012, 5:17 PM Reply   
matt - will let you know for sure in a couple days. need to take a family vote.

swatguy - appreciate the help. i do recall the exit out of the river being rough, but was on a friend's much larger boat. center ballast is a great suggestion that i will keep in mind.
Old    Kevin Zoodsma (zoodsmak)      Join Date: Feb 2009       07-24-2012, 2:47 PM Reply   

Shot this on lake Michigan last year near Holland, MI. If it is like this it will be your most epic day riding of the summer. Usually it's too choppy for riding but with the heat we've been having this summer I would guess flat conditions have been more common. We take a boat out there regularly for 4th of July or Coastguard fireworks and typically just take the wakesurfers.
Old    D Hill (dhill)      Join Date: Aug 2010       07-24-2012, 2:54 PM Reply   
GREAT shot kevin. incredible wake & grab.

though i can hope for conditions that good, i'm not too optimistic. my wife & kids will bitch if i wake them up too early and the more i learn about the scene boat party that is sat from 12-6pm, i'm guessing it's going to be a $hit show.

i've often wondered what the fine would be to wakeboard the chicago river....and how far i could get
Old    Bobby (mastercraf)      Join Date: Jul 2009       07-24-2012, 2:56 PM Reply   
You defenately do not want to wakeboard, swim, or fall into the dirty a** Chicago river!!!
Old    Swatguy (xstarrider)      Join Date: Jun 2007       07-24-2012, 4:06 PM Reply   
As my title states I am very familiar with the fines as my cousin is in the marine unit . I will just say this. Fines range from 350-3k it's up to the officers involved. You will not get very far at all unless you do it really early in the am. The tour boats and canoe trips are like hawks and report everyone once they are up an rolling at 10am. The CPD and the Coast Guard both have bots on each side of te locks and if te Coast Guard gets you you can expect the fines in the 3 k range.

Without naming names there was a wakeboard photo shoot that attempted to get permission and was denied but got up at sunrise and did it anyways. They got hit with like2 k in fines but budgeted for it anyways. .


Anyone jumping in that river must be made of Kryponite.


The Chicago Scene boat party was a complete flop last year. While they promote the crap out of it and show pics. There are really only 5 -10 main boats involved. Sure there are stripper poles and nonsense but seriously you can pick a spot away from it. It doesn't really attract anyone who has a boat outside the harbors. The Chicago scene magazine and the people that put it in are just celebrities in their own minds
Old    lakeski (lakeski)      Join Date: Dec 2006       07-24-2012, 8:11 PM Reply   
Different, more stringent, safety laws apply to the Great Lakes since they are classified as federal Coastal Waters. You are required to carry additional safety gear in your boat. Since the Coast Guard knows that you've got an inland lake boat that may be missing the extra gear they require, you may be more likely to attract their attention. I'd call them to get a list of the extra stuff you'll need, so you don't learn the hard way. The list gets longer if you go outside the breakwater, where you'll need a flare gun (check the expiration date on the flares). You may also need additional PFD's or throwable cushions depending upon the particulars of your boat. Also, make sure you've got a spark arrestor, fully charged fire extinguisher and that your battery is secured by a bracket so that it cannot tip over. They may also check your blower and bilge pump. We've been boarded a few times over the years, just so they could see if we had the extra gear and these safety items properly installed.

Also, stay away from any internationally flagged commercial boat traffic. According to the USCG in Duluth, if you get too close to an internationally flagged ship, even if it is docked, you can get into serious trouble.

I've always thought about launching in Chicago, which would be a blast. Let us know how it goes.

Here are a few pictures of a rare day of glass on Lake Superior!
Attached Images
  
Old    D Hill (dhill)      Join Date: Aug 2010       07-24-2012, 8:49 PM Reply   
lakeski - thanks for the head's up on the safety equipment. looks like i have everything except for a VDC & sound producing device. Below is the list I could find for a boat my size, though i stopped short of trying to find all state and/or local.

1. Display of Numbers
2. Registration/Documentation
3. Personal Flotation Devices (PFD)
4. Visual Distress Signals (VDS)
5. Fire Extinguishers
6. Ventilation
7. Backfire Flame Control
8. Sound Producing Devices/Bell
9. Navigation Lights

will let you know how it goes, assuming everyone agrees to go.
Old    Swatguy (xstarrider)      Join Date: Jun 2007       07-25-2012, 12:03 AM Reply   
Two of the most common tickets are

1)A throwable.........IE seat cushion square. Not an actual seat cushion of course.
2) open battery terminals. If one of your batteries doesn't have a cover make sure the terminals are for sure covered by a rubber piece.
Old    D Hill (dhill)      Join Date: Aug 2010       07-27-2012, 4:06 PM Reply   
weather permitting, we plan to drop in at burnham tomorrow before noon. would have chosen 31st street, but there is a small craft advisory with winds out of the north. dropping in at burnham means a shorter distance to the river/navy pier area.

call it vanity, but can't wait to get pictures of the boat with the city skyline in the background. picture below is at lake cumberland.
Attached Images
 
Old    Jay T. (wakebrdjay)      Join Date: Apr 2008       07-28-2012, 7:15 AM Reply   
Check the state laws also,they also apply,I know in Ohio they require an anchor.The Coast Guard also requires you to have the throwable cushion to be out in an accessible spot in the cockpit.
Old    D Hill (dhill)      Join Date: Aug 2010       07-30-2012, 1:28 PM Reply   
in spite of the small craft advisory and 3-6 foot waves, we did drop in at burnham harbor on sat around noon local time. launched at burnham instead of 31st st. since it was 1.4 miles closer to the playpen. very good decision based on the conditions.

day started off bad since CPD was waiting on the ramp and checking everyone's boats. they specifically checked for 5 things:
1) life vests for each person
2) throwable
3) fire extinguisher
4) registration
5) flare

had everything except the flare and intended to purchase one at the store, however they were sold out. was issued a $100 ticket, but was told that if i take a purchase one later, take the receipt to court, and the ticket would be dismissed. not sure if true or not, will begin calling later.

once in the water, we were tossed around badly when outside the harbor. maybe i don't know how to drive in these type of conditions, but had to constantly throttle up/down to avoid slamming the boat down. tried center ballast and without, both setups were equally bad. the worst part was going around navy pier since it concentrated the boats and provide more walls for wakes/rollers to hit.

the playpen, given it was the chicago scene boat party was also a pretty bad (http://www.chicago-scene.com/cs-parties/boatparty.htm). 200 or so boats and probably 5 CPD boats. had only brought the surf board, but even surfing would have been hard on this day. stayed for about 60 minutes, than went through the locks into the river. definitely agree with those that recommended it. calm and very enjoyable.



since the winds were subsiding throughout the day, the trip back to burnham was much better. took a while to take the boat out of the water thanks to some ahole that cleaned and buttoned up his boat on the ramp. due to the angle out of the parking lot, he was effectively blocking 2 of the 3 lanes. doubt he is on this forum, but if this was you in the picture, get a clue and move your boat across the street to clean it!!!

thanks to all of those that provided help/advice. plan to take the boat there again, just not in similar conditions or on during the scene boat party.
Attached Images
   
Old    lakeski (lakeski)      Join Date: Dec 2006       07-30-2012, 3:36 PM Reply   
Those are some great pics. Thanks for sharing your experience. Sorry to read about the ticket.

How did the locks work? Did you just pull in or was there some sort of line? What's the charge to use the locks?
Old    Shawndoggy (shawndoggy)      Join Date: Nov 2009       07-30-2012, 3:39 PM Reply   
that skyline pic is awesome!
Old    Matt (MattieK27)      Join Date: Mar 2010       07-30-2012, 3:47 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by lakeski View Post
Those are some great pics. Thanks for sharing your experience. Sorry to read about the ticket.

How did the locks work? Did you just pull in or was there some sort of line? What's the charge to use the locks?
There can be a line depending on how busy it is. Tour boats always are allowed in first, then however many pleasure boats fit until full. Locks are free as stated earlier.

It looks like you had a decent time dhill. Small craft advisories usually keep me off the lake, glad to hear it didn't ruin your weekend.

Last edited by MattieK27; 07-30-2012 at 3:50 PM.
Old    lakeski (lakeski)      Join Date: Dec 2006       07-30-2012, 5:01 PM Reply   
Matt - Thanks. I missed that note above. Do you know if there are any boat ramps on the Chicago River that you can use and still get downtown?

Near downtown Milwaukee, there is ramp on the Milwaukee River which is on calm water, so I was wondering if the Chicago River had something similar.
Old    D Hill (dhill)      Join Date: Aug 2010       07-30-2012, 5:51 PM Reply   
Quote:
Do you know if there are any boat ramps on the Chicago River that you can use and still get downtown?
though we didn't use it, the only one i found was at Richard J. Daley Park‎ (3150 South Western Boulevard) on the south fork.

Quote:
How did the locks work? Did you just pull in or was there some sort of line? What's the charge to use the locks?
because i am anal about my boat, i was a little nervous about the lock, but it was pretty easy. as matt states, tour boats go first (not that you have to give them permission, they take it), than pleasure boats. there is a stop light on the top of the gate, red is as you'd guess, yellow is the tour boats, than green is all over. choose a side (throw bumpers on whatever side makes you more comfortable, turn in your wakeboard racks, and look for a rope to hold onto. the ropes hang down about every 20 feet. the lock only drops 4 feet or so, but i still looked for a longer rope. i had someone in the bow and on the sunpad as insurance. i was waiting for them to yell at me for having someone outside the "boat", but no one said anything. once the horn blows, follow everyone out. in the end, real simple.
Old    Lorrin E (Kaikane)      Join Date: May 2010       07-30-2012, 7:49 PM Reply   
Best part about that pick of the guy blocking the ramp, check the "Classic" sticker on the trailer...yeah "classic" Wally! Did Lon lose 150 pounds, buy a Bayliner, and move to Chicago?
Old    Matt (MattieK27)      Join Date: Mar 2010       07-30-2012, 8:46 PM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by lakeski View Post
Matt - Thanks. I missed that note above. Do you know if there are any boat ramps on the Chicago River that you can use and still get downtown?

Near downtown Milwaukee, there is ramp on the Milwaukee River which is on calm water, so I was wondering if the Chicago River had something similar.
When we had runabouts we always put them in a good ways away from Chicago and used the Cal Sag canal to get downtown. I don't recommend this, unless you have a ton of time on your hands.

You might want to check out that ram that dhill found, never been there myself.
Old    Mike (luke22885)      Join Date: Jul 2006       07-31-2012, 6:16 AM Reply   
There is a ramp in summit that I have heard of that is not too far from the city. I have never used it but saw it a few years back we launched pretty far from downtown and took the cal sag as stated above. Not really much to see and you cant go in the water or anything but it was cool to do one time.
Old    Swatguy (xstarrider)      Join Date: Jun 2007       07-31-2012, 11:26 AM Reply   
The Summit ramp is still open as is the one in Crestwood il. The launch at Crestwood is very nice on the river. The summit launch is steep. Still useable but very steep.

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